How volunteers can support young people through transitions in education during COVID-19 and beyond

Last week, we were joined by speakers from across the education sector to discuss ‘How volunteers can support young people through transitions in education during COVID-19 and beyond’.  They included Bharath Ramaiah (Teacher Tapp), Fabio Thomas (Beatfreeks), Leanne Marquis (Shine Trust), Sophie Burton (Brightside), Anne-Marie Canning MBE (The Brilliant Club) and our own Director of Programmes, Beth Goddard. Creating this roundtable allowed us to start a discussion across the third sector and with staff from educational establishments, about tackling current challenges facing young people experiencing key transitions.

In preparation for the roundtable we conducted a small survey with recent leavers of schools and colleges across the UK. We wanted to hear which transitions young people found difficult and gain an insight into the issues they are currently facing. This allowed us to gather information about what support recent leavers believe is most needed.

We asked what former students felt were the most difficult transitions within education. They said:

‘Uncategorisable’ responses did not reference a specific year or time of transition, but these responses still provided valuable insights into what makes all points of transition difficult:

  • “The increased independence, workload and the requirement for organisation.”
  • “Meeting new people.”
  • “Making new friends.”
  • “New surroundings and different layouts and different people of different ages and personalities.”


We also asked former students “What type of support do you think needs to be provided for young people in education at the moment?”

The majority of participants highlighted that support with mental health and wellbeing is ‘extremely important right now’. There are interesting parallels between the insights gained in this small study and what speakersat our roundtable discussed. Fabio from Beatfreeks discussed the drive of young people to ‘effect wider positive change through society’ as a common theme identified in their ‘Take the Temperature‘ report.

How do we set up young people to be successful? Social belonging is key and volunteers are critical to help with this.” – Anne-Marie Canning

At Future First we strive to support schools and colleges in the most meaningful and effective ways possible, and we’re pleased to have hosted this important discussion.

We believe in the power of alumni as relatable role models who build the confidence, motivation and life chances of current students . Nothing captured this more perfectly than some of the words of advice written by alumni to current students going through difficult transitions:

  • “Talk to teachers. Never feel alone because that truly affects your mental health.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we were all in the same boat at some point, someone will help you.”
  • “Don’t worry, stay calm and try your best and make sure you do the necessary research and work to get where you want to be.”

In addition to this blog, we are pleased to be able to share the recording and presentations with you if you would like to listen to the discussion that took place.


Contact Future First to discuss how alumni can support your school or college or if you would like more information on how volunteers can support young people during key transitions.